It was Sunday, November 13, 1977. Something was wrong with my six year old body. I spent the previous couple of days flat on a couch or a bed, and I couldn’t lift my head at all. Just laid there like a fish out of water. The decision was made by my parents to admit me to nearby Sun Coast Hospital in Largo, the hospital I was born in on September 6, 1971. I certainly didn’t want to go, but I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life doing anything more than being able to lay down, either.
It turned out I had spinal meningitis. Don’t ask me how I got it, it’s still a mystery all these years later. How I got it didn’t matter, that I got it most certainly did. I don’t remember all that much about it all these years later, just remember three things:
One, at some point during my eleven days there, I was given a bath by one of the nurses, and had no problem disrobing for it. Probably wasn’t the only hygienic time I had in the hospital, but I remember it being a good experience for some reason. Nudity is much different when you’re a child than it is when you’re an adult. You don’t give it all that much thought, really.
The second memory I have was being visited by a man in a black outfit with a white collar. Yep, either a priest or a father. He called my name and I remember saying “I’m right here, sir.” He then walked out of the door for some reason and didn’t return. Was he expecting someone older? Someone in worse shape?
The last memory I have is a regrettable one. By the time Saturday November 19th had rolled around, I was not in the best of moods. My mom had bought me dinner at one of the fast food outlets, and not even that improved my mood. I had a bit of a rebellion late that afternoon, and the whole nursing staff couldn’t restrain me! Nothing physical, I wanted the hell out of there, and yelled at the top of lungs for it. So they brought in a couple of janitors to help restrain me, which triggered something in my brain to quell the rebellion I was engaging in.
The day before Thanksgiving, the meningitis had subsided, and I was free to go home. On December 1, 1977, I returned to school at Anona Elementary and everyone applauded when I came back.